Campus News

Two law school faculty named to Brumby, Wilner/UGA Foundation professorships

Sonja West
Sonja West

Two faculty members in the UGA School of Law have been named to endowed professorships.

Sonja R. West is the inaugural holder of the Otis Brumby Distinguished Professorship in First Amendment Law, a post shared by the law school and UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Harlan G. Cohen has been named the inaugural holder of the Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professorship in International Law.

“Sonja is a distinguished scholar in media law, and it is fitting that she be named to this professorship, which is devoted specifically to teaching and research about the First Amendment,” Georgia Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said. “Both law and journalism students will benefit from her experience and insight on this important American right, and this appointment continues the university’s commitment to equipping our students with the tools to be successful once they graduate. We are grateful to the Brumby family, including Georgia Law graduates Lee Dobbs Garrett and Otis A. Brumby III, two of the late Otis Brumby’s children, for their support of this professorship.”

“We’re indebted to the Brumby family, one of the great names in Georgia journalism history, for their support, and delighted that Professor West has joined the faculty of Grady College,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “We’re assembling a world-class team of First Amendment scholars at Grady and at the law school, and the benefits to students are immense.”

West joined the Georgia Law faculty in 2006 and specializes in media law, constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court. Her scholarship has appeared in various publications including the Harvard Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Michigan Law Review and the Washington University Law Review. She is the recipient of the National Communication Association’s 2016 Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression. She also was invited to address more than 100 judges from 19 European countries on the issue of press and court communication at the annual European Conference on Courts and Communication in Budapest, Hungary. She has authored articles about legal issues and the U.S. Supreme Court for a variety of popular news outlets such as Slate and Huffington Post, and she frequently provides commentary for various news media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian and National Public Radio, among others.

The professorship was created by the late Otis A. Brumby Jr., a Georgia Law graduate who desired to help law and journalism students better understand the importance of First Amendment guarantees and to be able to convey that understanding to the public. A veteran journalist, Brumby was publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal for 45 years.

Cohen joined the Georgia Law faculty in 2007, and he specializes in international law. He teaches courses on international law, global governance, international trade, U.S. foreign affairs and national security law, and human rights, and advises the student editors of the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, a role long played by Gabriel M. Wilner. His scholarship has appeared in the George Washington, Tulane, Iowa and New York University law reviews and the Yale, Berkeley, NYU and Michigan journals of international law.

“Harlan has established his reputation as an intellectual leader in international law,” Rutledge said. “His appointment as the inaugural holder of the Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law will help further the law school’s commitment to providing our students with a strong foundation that will assist them as they join the legal profession in law, business or public service in the United States as well as abroad. The law school is grateful to our alumnus Ken Klein and the UGA Foundation for their support of this professorship.”

Cohen has worked hard to expand the field of international law and draw new voices into its ranks through his role as managing editor of AJIL Unbound,the online extension of the American Journal of International Law, as co-chair of the American ­Society of International Law’s 106th annual meeting, as founding co-chair of ASIL-Southeast, and as co-chair of the Junior International Law Scholars Association. Cohen also serves on the executive committee of the American Society of International Law’s International Legal Theory Interest Group and has previously served as a member of the Society’s Executive Council. Cohen was elected to membership in the American Law Institute in 2013.

Named in memory of former associate dean and holder of the Kirbo Chair of Law Gabriel M. Wilner—a Georgia Law faculty member for more than 35 years—the professorship was created through a gift from Georgia Law alumnus Kenneth “Ken” Klein and matching funds from the UGA Foundation.